In this article you will find out what to see in Noto. What to say about this country, so beautiful that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.. In Noto there is a lot to see, a historic center that truly leaves you speechless, with noble palaces, churches, convents built after the terrible earthquake of 1693 in the fascinating Sicilian baroque style . A style that as already mentioned (See Scicli , Modica , Ragusa Ibla , Palazzolo Acreide ) is very flashy and elegant, with that characteristic pale white / yellow color, which when illuminated by the sun seems to create a golden aura around it.
Noto was built in 1703 about 13 km from the pre-existing urban center, which was destroyed after the earthquake of 1693. However, traces of ancient Noto still remain today, inserted in a beautiful natural context. We will talk about ancient Noto, however, later, let’s first find out what to see in Noto.
After leaving the car in the tree-lined Corso Vittorio Emanuele, proceed straight along the same road until you reach a beautiful arch, the gateway to Noto. This is the Porta Reala erected in 1838 in honor of Ferdinand II of Bourbon. You will find the main baroque beauties of Noto along this street and in the parallel Via Cavour.
1. Square of the Immaculate Conception
After a few meters you will find yourself in Piazza dell’Immacolata, a small square where the church of S. Francesco, built between 1711 and 1750 and the Benedictine monastery of SS. Salvatore of 1706. A little further on is the church of S. Chiara built in 1748. Really a nice glance.
2. Town Hall Square
About halfway through, you arrive in Piazza Municipio, of a disarming beauty. In addition to the Cathedral, whose infinite staircase gives it even more majesty and elegance, there are here other splendid Baroque palaces , residence of the nobles of the time such as the Palazzo Ducezio, seat of the Town Hall, and the Palazzo Landolina. Curiosity : Just think that the cathedral had partially collapsed in 1996 and after 11 years it was possible to rebuild it brick by brick.
3. Piazza XVI Maggio
And here we are in the last square, where there is the municipal theater built in 1870 and the church of S. Domenico , the latter embellished by a small nineteenth-century garden with a fountain coming even from Noto Antica, a fountain that was spared from the terrible earthquake.
4. Nicolaci Villadorata Palace
To visit the Palazzo Nicolaci Villadorata, a typical example of Baroque art , as you can already see from the beautiful balconies overlooking the street. It is possible for 4 euros to visit the internal rooms, which show off all the wealth of the noble family who lived there. Just think that the Nicolaci family had a monopoly on the trade of the Marzamemi tuna traps.
The church of Montevergine closes the street near Palazzo Nicolaci, very particular given its concave shape. Inside you will find a ceramic floor of the sixteenth, coming from Noto Antica.
5. Top Secret Tip – The panorama of Noto
In the Church of S. Chiara, of San Carlo and in Palazzo Nicolaci, you will have the opportunity to observe Noto from above and to enjoy a truly magnificent panorama . The ticket price is currently 2 Euros for churches and 4 Euros for Palazzo Nicolaci. This is absolutely among the things to see in Noto.
6. Via Cavour and surroundings
You can end the visit of Noto by taking Via Cavour, parallel to Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Exactly behind the Cathedral you will find on its right and left the Palazzo Trigona and the Palazzo Astuto , obviously also of Baroque style. Near the Palazzo Astuto, as previously written, there is the beautiful concave church of Montevergine.
Another beautiful noble palace is Palazzo Castelluccio , the ticket costs 12 Euros and is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 to 19.
These are the main things to see in Noto, let’s go now to discover something less known, top secret, Noto Antica.
Interactive map of Noto – Points of interest in purple
To locate yourself once in the area, click on the enlarge symbol at the top right of the map.
7. Noto Antica
About 10 km from Noto, on the slopes of Mount Alveria, is the ancient urban center of Noto destroyed by the earthquake . The ancient city has origins that date back to the Bronze Age , and then passed into the hands of Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Aragonese.
Here history goes hand in hand with nature, the view is fantastic and you are totally immersed in the green, with the Mediterranean scrub that over the centuries has regained its own space, merging with the ruins of Noto Antica.
The path of Noto Antica
Once you leave the car at the entrance of the ancient city, you pass through the royal door that will make you enter another dimension, back in time. You will find yourself totally immersed in ancient Noto, among the remains of medieval castles complete with drawings and sculptures in the rock left by prisoners, churches, city walls, caves, lakes, convents and much more .
The path starts from the Royal Gate, where you left your car, up to the Hermitage monastery of Santa Maria della Provvidenza, built after the earthquake, however, as a tribute to the population. Total duration of the route about 30 minutes each way .
Cava del Carosello
As if that weren’t enough, more or less halfway through, there is a detour to a beautiful reserve, the Cava del Carosselo . If you want, you can then follow a simple path carved into the rock by the Arabs more than 1,000 years ago, which will take you inside this quarry, crossed by a river that also forms two picturesque lakes where you can cool off .
In the quarry you will also find the remains of mills and tanneries carved into the rock , of Arab origin. Here, in fact, the tanning of the skins and the milling of the grain were possible thanks to the river and then the finished products were transported upstream along the path. Here the Arabs gave birth to a flourishing trade in food and textile products , a continuous coming and going of goods transported continuously upstream and downstream, hence the name of the quarry, Carosello.
Just think that in Morocco, in the medieval quarter of Fes , there are the same tanneries, which are still used today . The tanneries in Noto Antica were actually, in much more remote times, necropolises. That is, caves dug into the rock by the ancient Sicani people (among the first peoples to live in Sicily), who used them as tombs. Then these caves were adapted and modified over time by the various peoples who followed one another.
Activities loved by tourists in the surrounding area or in Sicily in general
Interactive map of Noto Antica – Points of interest in purple
In reality there would be even more to see, such as the gymnasium and the Heroa, both of Greek origin. The paths for this place are unfortunately not practicable today.
Where and what to eat in Noto
In Noto you will have the choice between many different restaurants. The restaurant il Buco, located near the Piazza dell’Immacolata, is certainly very good.
Noto is located in the province of Syracuse but at the same time its cuisine is influenced by the province of Ragusa. Here you find the typical dishes of Syracuse and its surroundings it’s here those of Ragusa and surroundings.
Here instead typical Sicilian dishes in general.